A few days ago I covered plans for a £5 million recovery fund in Greenwich borough after spotting details in meeting notes for the council’s Cabinet.
Greenwich Council have today put out a news story with a few more details.
UPDATE: The council have clarified that this is additional funds to the previous £1 million allocated for parks a couple of years ago, which was a cut from £1.5 million originally allocated in early 2020.
The latest allocation brings it back above that total.
The welcome investment follow’s a track record of ignoring public spaces and parks. In 2019 they spent just 0.3 per cent of Section 106 income on parks.
Thankfully that appears to be changing.
Other areas of spend
The council also state: “The refurbishment projects will include £1.7m for community centres, £1m for parks and £0.5m for leisure centres. There will also be £1m for support and outreach for residents who are struggling financially and £0.75m for mental health support and tackling health inequalities.”
Those other areas will be much welcomed by many.
A section in the story on finances isn’t entirely accurate when it states:
“Cllr Linda Perks, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said:
Council finances have been hit hard in recent years and the pandemic has added to the difficulties. Our annual budgets are set based on what we receive in government grants and how much we expect to collect that year in council tax and business rates.”
There is of course another major source of funds: developer income.
As covered recently, Greenwich have a pretty dire record of collecting it let alone how and where they spend it. Last year they collected the least of any London council according to a recent TfL report. They collected £1.3 million. Cross the Thames and Tower Hamlets collected £23.3m that same year. Lewisham collected £5.8m. Even Bexley collected more. There are variations in levels of CIL per square metre of development by borough and levels of development, but none of that comes close to explaining why Greenwich are so low.
It’s not just a one-year anomaly. Since the Community Infrastructure Levy begun in 2015, Greenwich lag many other councils to the tune of tens of millions despite higher levels of development.
In five years Greenwich collected just £8,727,087 from 2015 to 2020.
In Lambeth £26,022,000 million was received from 2015 to March 2019.
Southwark have collected £46,973,130 from developers since 2015.
Newham is around £18 million.
If and when Greenwich do finally collect tens of millions owed (as one of the top boroughs for new development in London they should not be near the bottom for income) they will be able to quickly pay off the outstanding sum of £9.1 million for Crossrail, and then be able to spend large sums improving many areas of the borough.